Talk:Domestication/Archive 1

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False Dichotomy

Re: "Some researchers give credit to natural selection, where mutations outside of human control make some members of a species more compatible to human cultivation or companionship. Others have shown that carefully controlled selective breeding is responsible for many of the collective changes associated with domestication." Mutations are not natural selection, they are the source if variation which makes selection (natural or otherwise) possible. A mutation/variation that makes an animal more compatible to human cultivation is still, implicitly, selected by humans even if not as part of an organized breeding scheme. The real distinction here is between conscious selective breeding by humans in the form of animal husbandry and unconscious selective breeding by humans in the form of favoritism toward animals that are more compatible. In any case, "some researchers" and "others" need to be clarified with specific citation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:02, 9 September 2007 (UTC)


Having just found the model up on here I pasted it on this page. I am one of the autors of fr:Domestication, that we turned into a featured article (I wrote feathered first, no, that's only for hens if I remember well). I took some pieces on this article on the beginning (still the part on plants (= espèces végétales) it a closed translation from the english article). If some of you are willing so, I would be glad to be help or to help in translating the article in french and, why not, get the star on the top right for it. It wouldn't mean to delete all the existing article of course, since it's allready quite developped. Any volonteers ? Salut ! Astirmays 21:19, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Dog domestication

Most of the article says that dogs were domesticated around 15,000 BCE, but under the history chart, it says

"Obviously, these are not dates that are set in stone. In fact, these dates are possibly far from being accurate due to scanty evidence. The earliest estimates, however, are that animals started to be domesticated approximately 10,000 years ago (8000 BCE)."

Is this a mistake?

It isn't. It seems that dog were domesticated several milenium before this other species. There is clues that shows that it was even much earlier than 15,000 BC that the relationship between dog and man started. (since mitrochondrial DNA indicate that dog and wolf would have separate about 150 000 year ago). See Origin of the domestic dog. Or fr:domestication and other ones. Astirmays 22:01, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

Raptors have been both caught in the wild and raised from birth to hunt with and for humans; dogs are also used to flush game for the birds. This goes back thousands of years.

Dogs Domesticated in Middle East?

While Middle East is technically Asia, I don't believe that's what researchers referred in a recent study that found Asian dogs such as Chow Chow to be closest genetically to ancient wolves.

Shouldn't it be Asia, not Middle East? While the Middle East is when the first civilizations started, the domestication of dogs happened long before that.

On proposed merger with domesticated animal

Domestication is a distinct subject. This article contains lots that might belong (also?) at domesticated animal, but the examples serve to illuminate the question of demestication, so at least some of this should stay here.

I'm opposed to the proposed merger on these grounds. Admustments are probably indicated, however.

Here is my take. There is a separate List of domesticated animals that I plan to merged Domesticated animals with in accordance with the wikipedia naming conventions for lists. The List of domesticated plants and List of domesticated animals are useful and should be maintained separately from this article on domestication, although they should all contain links to each other.--Jjhake 21:39, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

six critera. but maybe 7?

The six criteria appear to be seven in number. I don't have a copy of the book, could someone who does fix either the number or the list? Bryan

I fixed the list. The "moderate size" seems to have been added afterwards, and does not match elephants. --FvdP

Cats? Domesticated?

The degree of domestication of the cat is "questionable, because it does not really recognise a human as its chief"? This is in contrast, say, to the rabbit and the guinea pig??? -- Someone else 20:37 Jan 10, 2003 (UTC)

I guess the main reason is that the cat comes from Africa ;-) --FvdP 20:46 Jan 10, 2003 (UTC)
Must be. Actually, I think those who claim the cat is not domestic might be overimpressed by the fact that the cat can survive on its own quite nicely, feeling that domestic animals somehow ought to be obligately dependent on humans. But now I've been forced to do it: haul out Guns, Germs, and Steel: cats are indexed on pages 158, 173, 207, and 389. on p. 158: "...cats were domesticated in North Africa and Southwest Asia to hunt rodent pests." (The page has lots of small animals designated as domesticated (honeybee, silkworm moth, chinchilla), but Jared says the big animals were more important (not more domesticated). p. 173: "Cats and ferrets are the sole territorial mammal species that were domesticated, because our motive for doing so was not to herd them in large groups riased for food but to keep them as solitary hunters or pets." p. 207 relates to diseases that can be spread by "our pets and domestic animals". p. 389: "Wild ancestors cats were native to North Africa but also to Southwest Asia, so we can't yet be certain where they were first domesticated, although the earliest dates currently known cats favor Egypt." So nowhere does Diamond question the domesticity of the cat. Nor do I think there is any question that the species has been altered by its contact with man, so the offending phrase will now magically disappear (until the next person with an opinion stops by<G>). -- Someone else 21:05 Jan 10, 2003 (UTC)
There were other animals introduced at the same time like the cat, eg. fox and fallow deer, so I would be extremely doubtful on claims on domestication --Yak 16:46, May 1, 2004 (UTC)

Pedigree of Diamond's Criteria?

Hmm. Weird indeed. The criteria listed are only "According to evolutionary anthropologist Jared Diamond...", (ie, they are not universal), yet the rest of the article judges everything by this guy's criteria. not good -- Tarquin 20:40 Jan 10, 2003 (UTC)

You are right that chunks of the article are extracted from Diamond's book[1]. However that is because his arguments are pretty convincing and apparently well researched. His book is well worth reading in full. It gives a large number of references to his source material, and as far as I can establish his conclusions are largely his original work. [He got the Rhone-Poulenc Science Book Prize, for whatever that's worth]. Anyone know of anyone else who has published anything else substantial in this area? Gliderman (talk) 22:07, 4 July 2009 (UTC)

outsider taxa

On Talk:Domesticated outsider taxa i pose a queston abt my nonce term "outsider taxa", which also relates to Domestication. --Jerzy 09:33, 2003 Oct 27 (UTC)

potted plants -- domesticated?

Does anybody know what is the difference between domesticated plants mentioned here and all the nice pottery plants which are for sale and based on wild ancestors? This question arose at Dutch Wikipedia. Thanks Ellywa 11:07, 24 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Bees and rats

Should the honey bee and the silkworm be mentioned?

Is there a term for parahuman animals (pests) like rats, city pigeons and gulls. They are not tamed but depend (at least many of them) on humans.

-- Error 00:30, 30 Mar 2004 (UTC)

ww 16:02, 28 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I oppose, too; I would think that this article would deal with the process of and issues about domestication, whereas Domestic animal would identify those already domesticated and their role in various societies or cultures. Elf | Talk 03:06, 12 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I would call these "parahuman animals" commensalist (a user of french wikipedia : Astirmays)

Domestication by Animals

Why are the "ant-cow" aphids raised by leaf-cutter ants not a case of domestication? There are behaviors in the ants whose sole function is meeting the needs of the aphids, and why should hard-wired genetic behavior be treated so differently from conscious intention? In fact, if that were the criterion, there is a theory that says since wolves are so unamenable to domestication, the truth must be that a human-tolerant mutation must have been selected for due to the ability of wolves expressing it to scavenge from garbage heaps that humans created with no intention of domesticating anything; that would mean the domestication process went a long ways inintentionally, but IMO no one would conclude from that that dogs aren't really domesticated. --Jerzy(t) 23:58, 2004 Aug 15 (UTC)

Dogs: 10000 BCE or 11000 BCE

The article says two diferent things about the beginning of dog's domestication. In one place it says they were domesticated 10000 BCE, in another place - 11000 BCE. 04:41, 24 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Adjusted table to match info we've got in the dog article. The next place in the article mentions both ends of the range. Elf | Talk 00:42, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)

recent editions to table

Sorry not to have included a summary with previous edits. I am new at this. All my changes were on the table of approximate dates. I added Honeybee and Silkworm, expanded the date for Cats, and adjusted the spacing of cells. I hope I have not caused any trouble. Feel free to remove Honeybee or Silkworm if not appropriate.

Jjhake 22:49, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

A separate master list of all organisms being bred under human control

I am wondering if the section called “Categories of domesticated organisms” should be moved into a separate master list that would be merged with the “List of domesticated animals,” the “List of domesticated plants” and the list of “Domesticated outsider taxa.” There are so many organisms with complete lifecycles under the care and direction of humans that the list in this article is starting to look like a full taxonomical chart of all living things. It is an interesting and valuable list, but I think that it should all be consolidated into one list that is organized into the three main categories of animals, plants, and outsider taxa. I also think that there should be some standardized way of specifying the degree of domestication for a species or a simple explanation of why it should be included on the list. The article on domestication should contain a clear link to this master list, but I think that the article and the master list should be separate projects. What do others think? --[[User:Jjhake|Jjhake (talk)]] 21:24, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I don't think we need to replicate the list of living things--it is startling to click "mammals" in this article and, instead of getting a list of domesticated mammals, getting the full article on all mammals, etc. I agree that we need a better definition of what we want to list as domesticated--presumably any plant that has been brought in from the wild and hybridized a couple of times is "domesticated", which leaves us with billion and billions of plants that could be listed. And I think there's already a reasonably good list of reasonably thoroughly domesticated animals in the article. So I'm thinking get rid of this bit entirely. Elf | Talk 01:11, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Okay, seeing no further comments, I will go ahead and plan to relocate this section (Categories of domesticated organisms). I will merge it with the lists. I think a list of domesticated organisms and their categories might still be of interest, but it should in be consolidated as a separate list. Any further thoughts?

Here is one possible system for a way of organizing the list of domesticated organisms:

A similar system could to be used for plants and the other kingdoms.

For large animals this works. For small animals (rodents etc), it's going to be very hard (who knows how many have been kept as pets sometime, somewhere!). For plants it would seem a virtually impossible task, so many species have been bred by humans for drugs, ornament, etc, and so many hybrides created (in passing where do these fit in, hybrid species created by man, sometimes by genetic engineering as well as 'voluntary' and 'forced/un-natural' breeding). Gliderman (talk) 22:20, 4 July 2009 (UTC)

Cows in the Sahara

Recently, this link was added to the article along with the statement that cows were first domesticated around 6000 BCE in Northern-Africa. While I don't know much about domestication, I'm sure that the link does not warrant this statement: it does not even contain the word 'cow' or 'ox'; it only speaks of 'cattle', which in African contexts easily could apply to goats or other non-cow kinds of cattle. As the link does not warrant the conclusion that it speaks about cows and cows only, it should not make the article say so. That is why I have removed it the first time and why I have moved it to Talk now. — mark 18:28, 4 May 2005 (UTC)

Fair enough; I don't claim to know naything about African pastoralism, and was unaware that in this context "cow" and "cattle" aren't necessarily the same thing. I decided based on my understanding of "cattle", and that the link looks credible - hosted in a university professor's web space, apparently a supplement to a textbook - that the link could stay. But I'm happy to leave it out. Thanks, mark, for your detailed explanation. CDC (talk) 20:11, 4 May 2005 (UTC)


By 6,000 BCE Evidence of domesticated 'humpless' cattle in the Saharan region. Also seed-cropping (or harvesting) of grains. [posted by Roylee]

Still no cows. You know, there might have been, but I would just like to see a more solid and unambiguous source. — mark 20:47, 4 May 2005 (UTC)

Honey bees domesticated?

Now I only dabble in beekeeping... but I was under the impression that honey bees were never truely domesticated. That's what beekeepers have told me. you can go "capture" a wild swarm, and "domesticated" bees can swarm and create colonies in the wild. Some queens have been bred for specific traits, but they can live completely independant of humans, unlike cows and other animals. I think they're more coaxed into living in convenient boxes for us than they are domesticated.


What do US domestic animals number have to do with domestication in general?--nixie 08:48, 5 September 2005 (UTC)


"While the process continues with plants (berryfruits, for example), it appears to have ceased with animals." This is a wrong assertion especially if you consider aquaculture. Ericd 21:25, 12 October 2005 (UTC)

And let's see, reindeer, muskoxen, mule deer.... I'm changing this statement. Deirdre 02:12, 10 January 2007 (UTC)

Process of domestication: Mutation vs Natural Selection

I am confused by this paragraph that seems to pit mutation and natural selection as alternate theories of domestication. This seems like a misunderstanding of how natural selection uses mutation. Random mutations cause new genes to appear, and natural selection causes the "better" genes to become widespread. I would guess that there are only two competing theories: natural selection and selective breeding.Happyharris 18:17, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

Thanks, I made an effort to correct this confusion. --Jjhake 02:39, 12 December 2005 (UTC)

Psychoactive plants

I removed this text:

Reflecting human cultural proclivity to alter consciousness, plants with psychoactive properties were also domesticated early, such as the opium poppy, the cannabis plant and grapes for fermenting into wine.

It's inaccurate. Opium poppy is fairly early, Neolithic Italy, about 4000 years after wheat and barley domestication, anyhow, probably first domesticated for its oil. Date of hemp is uncertain, but again probably domesticated for oil; grapes are probably c. 5000 years ago, so 5000 years after wheat and barley. I think the writer of the original words is straying from a NPOV in trying to find evidence for early psychoactive use of plants. Mark Nesbitt 22:27, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

International Wiki

Hi all, Come and see the french page about domestication, that I developped partly from this one, then searching for more informations elswhere, and from what I could know. I hope you can understand or guess something, you can either use the google translator... Astirmays

Guinea pigs: domestication in AD 900 or 2000 BC?

From, which reports domestication at 2000 BC and not AD 900 as this article states.

What is Ukraine at 2000BC?

I see, that horse was domesticated in Ukraine 4000 years ago. But this is fake. There is no evidence that either Ukraine or Kievian Rus' existed at that time. (excuse my English) Dims 22:39, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

The country name is being used as a geographical description, not a political one.Mark Nesbitt 12:50, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
How did someone know, that domestication of horse occured on territory of Ukraine, while he don't know what historical country at this territory existed?! It is impossible! Dims 21:14, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Look! Every other domestication associated with large regions! And only horse associated with some sharpened country! It seems to me, that some ukrainian nationalist put this statement here. It should be replaced with "europe", or, if you wish, "eastern europe"! Dims 21:18, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
I think you're reading a little too far into this. Ukraine is just a more precise geographical description. -- bcasterlinetalk 23:19, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Ok, let's forget about my reasoning. Simple. Do you have some references, confirming, that domestication of horse occured on territory of Ukraine? Dims 10:53, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
That's the location most references give. See, for example, this page. -- bcasterlinetalk 18:10, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Ok. It seems to me, that this is not the location of domestication, this is location of most early dated finding. We can take every finding about domestication of every animal, for example, a dog. Look! It written there "multiple places". Let's take all these places, sort them by date, select first and -- voila -- we have extremely precise point of domestication of a dog! Nonsense? Nonsense! We should not only sort places by date, we should also prove, that this point caused all other points. Ok. My final suggestion is: let us make two colums for location. In first column we will say where domestication occured by overall study, and in second -- where most early finding located. So, we'll have approximate areas in first column, and precise points in second. There we can put even village Dereivka, where most old teeth found. Because otherwise table looks strange: large regions and Ukraine among them. What about Ukrainian globe? :) Dims 18:48, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Oh so terrestrial...

Fish are also animals...I do not see them listed here anywhere. Carp are one of the earliest domesticates of any animal and they should be considered here. Most people do not realize this, but particularly because of the home aquarium hobby and the importance of aquaculture, there are far more species of domesticated fish than terrestrial animals.

Also, rather than use Jared Diamond's (a nice popular writer on evolution, but not exactly an authority) should use Juliet Clutton-Brock's. See her: Natural History of Domesticated Mammals for a start.

Hi there, please sign your posts. I fixed some 'ukn' -> 'unk' but I must admit fish as domesticated seems somewhat odd given their lack of interaction with humans. Diamond I wouldn't consider authoritative, I'll try to look into the second source, thanks. MKV 01:07, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
Well, it depends on the definition of domestication you have in mind. Goldfish, carps and even new species such as Rainbow trout have gone differents in their shape from their wild ancestor. They are propably more adapted to farming than their wild ancestor were.
By the way, I am the main autor of the french article (featured article). Do you want to turn this one to featured article as well ? I would be glad to help, since if we work well, it would be better than the french one, (and permit to improve it again !) Astirmays 20:51, 16 December 2006 (UTC)


Since when has there been an effort to domesticate dolphins? Training wild animals, particularly ones as intelligent as Ceteceans or the great apes, or keeping wild animals captive, is not at all the same thing as domesticating them. This table needs some sources. Deirdre 02:14, 10 January 2007 (UTC)


I don't see any reptiles on the list. I mean, Ball Pythons are pets, as well as iguanas and other reptiles I can't think of right now. Don't they need a place too?

Oh yeah, and this:

"In Central Asia, Golden Eagles sometimes are trained for falconry: in Kazakhstan there are still hunters using these eagles in order to catch deer and antelopes; in Kyrgyzstan hunters will use them to hunt foxes [1]; and in Mongolia they are traditionally trained to hunt wolves. Some of the animals that Golden Eagles have been trained to kill can weigh 45 kg (100 lb)"

So wouldn't golden eagles be somewhat domesticated?

Confusion about bees

The article seems to be confused about bees, in that it says both "There is early evidence of beekeeping, in the form of rock paintings, dating to 13,000 BC." and (in the table) that bees were domesticated about 4,000 BC. So which is right? (if either; I see somebody earlier queried whether bees counted as domesticated at all). pm215 15:16, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Pigs domestication, Eastern Turkey and China

Nowhere in the reference, quoted by the article, does it say explicitly or otherwise that Pigs were first domesticated in China! The reference merely proves a divergence in genes between wild Chinese pigs and Europe pigs around 500,000 years before the present and another divergence in genes of the domestic pig around 2000 years ago. The reference is challenging the idea, that pigs were simply spread from their supposed original domestication area, in eastern Turkey and China (not just China, no one has ever thought that!), to the rest of the world. The reference quoted shows, there is some genetic connection between European wild boar and the European domesticated pig. It is therefore saying, there was a independent domestication of the pig in Europe or perhaps there was a mixing of the native European wild species being domesticated with introduced domesticated pigs from the near East, happening later than the earlier domestications that occurred in the near east, Turkey/Israel and the far East, China. (Eastern Turkey and Israel, the fertile crescent, are in the near east, "Asia")

The reference used in the article -

I have changed the Article to include, the Near East and not just China as the places that started pig domestication.


The source reference quoted by the article is not disputing the domestication of sheep initially occurred in the central part of the fertile crescent it is merely showing that the sheep was cross bread with local wild varieties, across Europe and Asia. So, I will erase Asia from the article, which is very vague anyway and does not include Europe, as the site of the domestication of the sheep.

Levels of Domestication

In the section on levels of deomestication, how about adding a further category for species that are now dependant on human intervention for their reproduction? Many plant (especially fruits like bananas and grapes) are now wholly bound to human control over their breeding and can no longer reproduce on their own.

duplicate reindeer listing

'reindeer' appears twice in the list of 'Approximate dates and locations of first domestication'; while in a different region, it seems silly to mention the same animal twice? - Weerlicht 13:19, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

What does "second circle" mean?

I noticed in Domestication#Approximate_dates_and_locations_of_original_domestication, there is a second table labeled "second circle." How does this "circle" differ from the first table? -- (talk) 23:30, 8 March 2008 (UTC)

I'm also terribly confused about this. Obviously, I can speculate, but I don't think we're alone in being confused. The term shouldn't be used unless its explained. (talk) 20:11, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

and Reindeer

and other Reptil, even Ape ,monkey —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:26, 11 July 2008 (UTC)

Definition of domestication

-The definition stated of domestication in this article, I feel is inaccurate. It is limited to plants and animals as the controlled factors and humans as the controlling factors, whereas in truth, abstract, animate and inanimate objects, including many forms of life, processes can come to be considered domesticated and many species can be considered the domesticators, in my opinion. Take, for example, the process of forming diamonds or the idea of flight; they can be considered recently domesticated. For a more relevant example, take certain members of the ant species, who are known to frequently domesticate other insects and herd them for their ability to generate sugar-rich substances, able to sustain an entire colony. Because domestication is in deed slavery, take for a most extreme example, the domesticating of one human by another. The definition of domestication, therefore, should be reconsidered, and, in my opinion, stretched to include the endless possibilities and already current happenings that many of us humans deem inappropriate and preposterous based on the simple fact that we never witnessed it. The working of my opinion on this page may be wholly irrelevant, but it is your honorable duty as editors of an encyclopedia to acknowledge the possible truth, whether it be welcomed or not, and by doing so consider the words previously stated. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:45, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

It has been too many days. I will fix it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:23, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for your contribution.[1] Your definition do not correspond to the normal understanding and usage of the term (which overwhelmingly implies human agency), and it is not reflected in the rest of the article. No one usually talks about "domestication" of diamonds, for instance, or also plants "domesticating" other plants or animals. To consider a "possible truth" without substantial backing is called "original research" in Wikipedia. Becauuse of the lack of support of secondary sources, I am reverting to the original definition. -- (talk) 21:54, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

conservation status?

why is there a conservation status chart attached to this article? (talk) 09:12, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

It has been 10 days, I will remove it. (talk) 04:57, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Former Instances

I believe this section should be removed from the page. There is no evidence that African or Asian elephants were ever domesticated. History shows that they were tamed wild animals. A domesticated animal must be born and reared in captivity.Jgayoso-GMU (talk)

Tasty Elephants?

Someone should check that sentence. I'd change it but I'm not sure what it's supposed to say. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:52, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

No History

This article currently deals with the processes of domestication while never talking specifically about the history of domestication (aside from the limited "background" section). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:09, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

This page is a huge mistake

As an other contributor said it above, this page is a great error. And the French page too (the Article de qualité of this page is not in favour of the reputation of Wikipedia). In this case Wikipedia is not very serious. It is impossible to speak about domestication without speaking about religion, sacrifice and so on. According great anthropologists (see below), there is a close relationship between sacrifice, religion and the origin of society and language. Theses matters are not well-known but it is necessary to give a large place to these anthropological theories. Some people see a link between domestication and slavery. It is also an interesting view. It is a pity that this page is only written on a positivist point of view. I give sommepossiblesources (even in the en-Wp):

Dogs in ancient China Arthur Maurice Hocart René Girard Henri Hubert Marcel Mauss fr.Luc de Heusch

Girard, René. (1977) Violence et le Sacré (eng. Violence and the Sacred). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

[2] Jeffrey Carter [3] search : domestication + Sacrifice

[4] search : Girard and animals William Robertson Smith


[6] search: domestication + Sacrifice


[8] Jonathan Z. Smith read the p. 151: "A theory of sacrifice must begin with the domesticated animal and with the sociocultural process of domestication"

Because of my bad English I don't think it is possible for me to first change the page. But we must improve a page written less or more on the model of a French page which is a bad page. José Fontaine (talk) 00:27, 28 December 2008 (UTC)

horse domesticated earlier

Utility of domesticating dogs

Jerry Pournelle has stated on his blog that the domestication of dogs was symbiotic in that the villages of the cavemen who domesticated dogs survived longer than villages without dogs. Would be great material for the article if anyone knows of a more reliable source. Tempshill (talk) 23:03, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

Domestication and taming

Are these two words complete synonyms? --Zara-arush (talk) 15:38, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

  1. ^ Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond